Why is there no universal ball for pickleball?

Why is there no universal ball for pickleball?

DALLAS, TX - Something that the ‘Big 4’ sports leagues in the US and Canada have in common is that each one features a universal ball in every official league game.

MLB uses Rawlings for baseballs, the NHL uses Inglasco for pucks, and the NFL and NBA use Wilson.

Uniformity isn’t something that pickleball can boast about because different professional organizations use different balls. 

The PPA Tour announced in a press release on Thursday that it will switch from the ONIX Dura Fast 40 to Vulcan’s VPRO FLIGHT as its official ball. The APP has traditionally used the Dura as well, but pro player Alix Truong revealed on a recent episode of the Tennis Sucks podcast that the league will use balls from OWL Pickleball in 2024. MLP and USA Pickleball both use the Franklin X-40 Outdoor.


With all of the news of professional organizations switching balls, there’s a question that must be asked: Why isn’t there a universal ball for pickleball?

The basic answer is that the demands of the ball change too much based on the environment of play.

‘Environment of play’ refers to where the game takes place: an indoor court or an outdoor court. Indoor courts vary considerably from outdoor courts, but before going into these differences, I need to make the distinction between an indoor pickleball court and an outdoor pickleball court located under a roof.

Most of the “indoor pickleball courts” are really just outdoor pickleball courts located under a roof. Players can still comfortably use the same ball they would normally use on an outdoor court because the court surface is the same as an outdoor court surface.

True indoor pickleball courts are usually lined in a gymnasium on the same surface as a basketball or volleyball court. This surface creates a different bounce than a traditional outdoor court’s concrete or asphalt surface and requires a different type of ball altogether.


According to an article from Pickleball University, indoor pickleballs have fewer holes than outdoor pickleballs. For instance, the aforementioned ONIX Dura Fast 40 (an outdoor ball) has 40 holes, while the ONIX Fuse Indoor ball has only 26 holes.

The article also explains how outdoor pickleballs are made from a harder plastic to be able to withstand the harsher conditions of outdoor weather, which makes them bounce higher than indoor balls.

There are several other differences I could go into here, but all of them contribute to making the same point: a universal ball in pickleball isn’t viable with the wide variety of court environments and surfaces.

This claim, however, comes with a caveat.

It’s true that there can’t be a universal ball in the sport if it would have to be viable on both a true indoor court and an outdoor court. But, it’s still a possibility at the pro level.

The PPA, APP, and USAP all have “indoor” tournaments, but not one of those events is played on a “true” indoor court surface.

In fact, the ONIX Dura Fast 40 and Franklin X-40 Outdoor balls were used at these “indoor” events when they were held in 2023.

Every event across these organizations, including MLP, essentially uses the same outdoor court surfaces at all venues, regardless of whether an event is “indoor” or not.

Thus, a universal ball across the sport’s pro realm could theoretically work.